Plight of Orang Asli touches Sabahans
A group of charity workers from SIB Likas (BM) who visited several Orang Ash settlements in Peninsular Malaysia recently were touched by the plight and living conditions of these natives. According to one of the group members, Damus Sakai, the Jakun and Batek tribes they visited were very poor and lived off the land. “Their houses were makeshift huts and they make a living from collecting orchids, gaharu, damar aiid rotan, among others to be sold for income,” Damus said. He added that the Orang Ash collected food from the jungle surrounding the settlements and their plight was even worse than the people in Sabah. “At least folks in the rural villages in Sabah carry out farming activities but the Orang Ash rarely do,” he said before disclosing that the settlement they visited were in Kuaha Lipis and Jerantut. Some of the Orang Ash had carried out farming activities in the past but gave up after the land they worked on was taken back either by the Government or the owners. Damus said the Government did provide some of the villages with housing but the Orang Ash could not move in because there is no electricity supply to the houses. “The houses were hot, stuffy and without ventilation so those who were given the houses decided to move back to the settlement,” Damus said. According to him, SIB Likas sends a group of charity workers to the Orang Ash settlements at least once a year to help these people. Among the charity works carried out there was teaching the villagers to read as most of them are illiterate.